Awakening – review

Written by Nick Tapalansky, art by Alex Eckman-Lawn, letters by Thomas Mauer. Back Cover by Teresa Marra.

Just when you think every zombie story has been told another one rears is pasty blood-thirsty head. After so many tales of the undead have been released what can you possibly do? You mix genres. Awakening found it's hook, a zombie-crime story. Think Walking Dead meets Dragnet. At it's core, though there isn't much new, at least right now.

Derrick Peters lives his life solving crimes as a mid-sized town detective. A couple brutal, cannibalistic murders have taken place and the cops haven't gotten anywhere. His main connection: his mentally off-balance sister Cynthia. She witnessed one of the murders and came to her own conclusion that it's zombies. With no one believing her, she begs her brother for help. Reluctantly, he agrees and finds out that she might not be as far off as everyone thinks. Using his connections and the help of a transferred expert the pieces slowly, very slowly, start coming together. Murderous ex-cops, surviving victims and pharmaceuticals are all the pieces that have to be put together to figure out the uniqueness of the mystery.

It's a fairly simple idea; zombies and mystery. Writer Nick Tapalansky is capable with executing his idea, though evidently it's his first work. Often the dialogue doesn't sound believable. What it does sound like is something the writer saw on a cop show. This is a small hurdle in writing that can easily be overcome with time and more writing. What will take more time to fix is the poor ability to transition. The book is rife with scenes that cut off at inopportune moments, usually after a bad line of dialogue. Making the transitions even more difficult to understand is the art.

Alex Eckman-Lawn seems to emulate 30 Days of Night artsit Ben Templesmith with his mixed media style. The elements bring in painting, hand-drawing, computer imaging, and more. It's very specific look but the difference between him and Templesmith is, as disorienting as they both look, Templesmith specifies the main point of the scene so there's no questioning what character is being featured. With Awakening names are often said by characters to remind the readers who is speaking to whom and it seems like a clunky add. Like the writer, Eckman-Lawn will grow as he does more professional work.

Right now the combination of the two makes the book difficult to read, which is a shame. Once the book really starts kicking in it ends. The last fourth of the book is really the best where you start to grasp the the mystery and the characters are more discernible by sight and by personality. With hope the writing and the art will improve as the book goes on the next volume should be better. The best part of this volume will be reading the next one.

Jo Schmidt
for Crimespree Magazine